Friday, 23 July 2010

Jack Straw dismisses US invitation to answer Lockerbie questions

[This is the headline over a recent report on The Guardian website. It reads in part:]

Jack Straw, the former justice secretary, has rejected a demand from a US senate committee to appear in Washington next week to answer questions about the release of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing.

As Labour MPs accused the senators of "grandstanding", Straw wrote to the chairman of the senate committee to decline his "kind invitation" on the grounds that he played no role in the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. (...)

"I had absolutely nothing to do with [the] decision," Straw wrote. "Indeed I was on holiday at the time and only learned about it from an item on the BBC News website. It follows that I do not see how I could help your committee 'understand several questions still lingering from this decision' … You will therefore excuse me if I do not accept your kind invitation." (...)

Mike Gapes, the Labour chairman of the foreign affairs select committee in the last parliament, attacked the decision to invite Straw. "We, in our parliament, have never tried to summon Colin Powell or Condoleezza Rice. I think it is political grandstanding by some US senators."

Sir Christopher Meyer, the former British ambassador to Washington, endorsed the decisions by Straw and MacAskill. "As a matter of principle a British government or a Scottish government should not submit to the jurisdiction of an American congressional committee," Meyer told Radio 4.

"That does not mean that they can't in some way co-operate with the committee's enquiry, either privately or in correspondence. It is what the Americans would do if the boot was on the other foot. They have done it already. A number of them were approached to give evidence to the Chilcot inquiry. They declined to do so. But they have co-operated in private. I just don't think it is right for members of a sovereign government, albeit a very close ally, to be required in public under oath to give evidence to an American congressional inquiry."

Kevan Jones, a former Labour defence minister, said: "The senate committee clearly is on a witch-hunt against BP. They would be highly annoyed if one of our select committees demanded to see an American politician put before us. They need to be careful because they are trying the patience of good friends of the US. I include myself as one."

[What, I wonder, will Richard Baker MSP, Scottish Labour's intellectually-challenged justice spokesman, say now? Watch this space.]


  1. Please sir......what does intellectually-challenged mean?

  2. I fear you've performed a field promotion Robert. While Richard Simpson is a Labour MSP qualified as a medical doctor, to the best of my knowledge Richard Baker (rejoicing in the cruel nickname of the Swine Pursuivant) has never been awarded a medical or scholarly doctorate.

  3. Lallands, well that's strange because he has previously been referred to as Dr Richard Baker, yet, as you say he doesn't appear to have a medical qualification. I've just found that out tonight when I was writing to Iain Gray. I was thinking, "Dr Richard Baker" but thought I should check and when I did, lo and behold, no "Dr" title anywhere. I wonder where it came from!

  4. The subject matter is of course not remotely funny but I had to have a giggle at Straw's response above. For initially he said he would consider it and would get back to the senate once he had discussed the matter with former colleagues. That chat didn't last long then eh?

  5. Nor did it need to. It's a no-brainer. Shame on those opportunists who would have had our own politicians so meekly comply.

  6. Hello again Rolfe. Here's a thing tho. Look at all those quotes across the political board, outraged at the US demanding these people appear before them. Guess who the odd folk out are? Labour in Scotland and the Tories, judging by the quotes attributed to Baker and Goldie today. Interesting to see what its really about for them. Nat bashing.

  7. HAHA! @Patrick H.
    "Please sir......what does intellectually-challenged mean?"
    - If that's not an oxymoron (emphasis on MORON), I don't know what is.

  8. My apologies to all doctors for having promoted Richard Baker to their ranks. Like Jo G, I thought I had seen him referred to in the media as "Dr" but, even if my memory wasn't just playing tricks, there seems to be no online evidence of a doctorate or a medical degree.